Teaching and testing the “Seven Deadly Sins”

In my effort to share interesting e-mails, here is one from a Fayette County mom about confronting a permission slip from school to permit her child to attend a segment on the “Seven Deadly Sins.”

Today my 8th grade, 14-year-old daughter presented me with a permission slip to attend a teaching segment on the “Seven Deadly Sins.”  As stated in the permission slip, juveniles who are at least 13 years old in Georgia “must be prosecuted as adults if they are charged with one of the Seven Deadly Sins.”

The permission slip further contends the Georgia Department of Education believes it is vital for our children to understand the justice system and consequently the circumstances which may result in them being treated as adults.   In this very same paragraph, it is stated it is now “required” for all 8th grade social studies teachers to therefore cover this curriculum as part of performance standards as it will subsequently be covered on the 8th grade CRCT.

As a mother of four children, three of which I might add all attend the same Fayette County Middle School (one is in 6th grade, one in 7th grade and, of course,  the last in 8th grade), I nearly lost my coffee in a wave a nausea when I read the portion of the permission slip referencing yet another standardized test and the reference of bureaucratic performance standards.

This is heartbreaking stuff, people.  We are talking about a day and age where as a society of people we have evolved (apparently) for the need to charge children as adults for committing heinous, indescribable crimes.  As if the world weren’t scary enough with all the adults out there committing thousands of grotesque crimes, now we live in time where babies are out there doing it, too.

This letter is not about whether charging a 13-year-old as an adult is the right or wrong thing to do.  I’ll save this debate for my prayers.  The purpose of this letter is to address my daughter is 14 years old, and she should have been made aware of the “Seven Deadly Sins” when she was 12 years old, previous to her turning 13 years old if it is the intent the state Department of Education to include this information on required proficiency mandates .

She should NOT be learning about this as an 8th grade student, a year after 13 years old and definitely not for the SOLE purpose of glazing the state’s required CRCT or to make all of us that live in Fayette County less uncomfortable about falling home values.   The permission slip made this sound like this was due to “recent news stories” when the TRUTH is this became law in 1994, when the Georgia General Assembly passed Senate Bill 440 (SB 440) which gives the Superior/Adult court exclusive jurisdiction over youth ages 13 through 17 years old who are arrested for one of seven violent offenses, otherwise known as the “Seven Deadly Sins.”

As a mom, personally and most importantly spiritually, I don’t want my kids learning about the “Seven Deadly Sins” at all truthfully.  What mother or father wants their son or daughter learning about aggravated sodomy or child molestation, rape or sexually battery in grave detail and at such young and formidable years?  NO ONE!  However, given our lawmakers and politicians, given society, and, lest we forget standardized testing and performance standards, there isn’t a choice. I wish it was different.

I challenge our new superintendent Dr. Bearden and our new governor to take a more proactive approach and reconsider continuing to teach this class to 8th grade students only, who by the way, are on a whole, older than 13 years old.  This is like dispensing birth control pills to a pregnant woman.  It’s just a little too late.  If our school district really care about our children, and the so-called “circumstances” of the justice system that directly impact them, they will teach this course when the state of Georgia has the right to levy the applicable consequences to them … not a year later.

Maybe some parents will be unhappy to send their 6th and 7th grade sons and daughters to a class like this … I know I would be,  just like I am now for my 8th grade daughter, but this isn’t about me being comfortable, or about other parents being comfortable, or about CRCT test scores or performance standards.  This is about the law and sadly a 13-year-old child’s right, given how Senate Bill 440 directly impacts every child in the state of Georgia between 13 and 17 years old. (And apparently every 8th graders CRCT score too).

–From Maureen Downey

63 comments Add your comment

Toto: Exposing naked body scanners...

January 30th, 2011
11:35 pm

Hmmm. It is now permissible for adult strangers in uniform to view a minor NAKED and expose them to DNA damaging back scatter x-rays, or if they refuse, to give them a sexually assaulting “pat down” just so they can go on a plane ride; and the schools are going to teach them that if they do the same things, THEY’LL BE TRIED IN COURT AS AN ADULT????? Wake up Americans! The Egyptian people are smarter and braver than you! Why do you put up with this? Mom, if you are really concerned about this, PULL YOUR CHILD OUT IMMEDIATELY AND HOME SCHOOL THEM. Then organize a political protest to stop this nonsense! Put your actions where your mouth is. Sacrifice for your children’s sake.

Helena

January 31st, 2011
12:29 am

Only the first two paragraphs showed up in my RSS feed, so I clicked on the post expecting the parent to be upset that a clearly Judeochristian topic is being taught as part of the curriculum in a public school. I guess we really are now a theocracy. I’m totally, completely fine with parents and churches teaching these moral lessons — in fact they should, in an age-appropriate manner. But I teach in a government-funded public school, not Atlanta Christian Academy.

This is the first I’ve heard of “the seven deadly sins” being a specific part of the Georgia 8th grade social studies curriculum. Maybe the person in Fayette County who wrote the permission slip is correct, but I’d think that if this is the case, it would’ve caused an uproar (both pro and con) by now. I’ll have to check with my school’s social studies department chair tomorrow.

Get Real

January 31st, 2011
12:52 am

The GPS does not refer to them as the 7 Deadly Sins- the title is the 7 Delinquent Behaviors! As I teach in an inner-city school, this is one of the most important units that I teach to my students. I am thankful that is a part of the curriculum and I agree that it should be taught sooner, however parents can do that as well.

South Georgia Teacher

January 31st, 2011
5:40 am

I teach 8th Grade Social Studies in South Georgia. By law, I must cover these seven- and there is a possibility they will have questions on the CRCT. My only concern is when I read over them- including aggravated sodomy- and my school children ask “what is sodomy”- how in-depth do you go (pardon the vulgarity). And now we’re asked to come up with projects for the students to get in-depth understanding of topics in each unit. What kind of rubric will work with sodomy? I feel uncomfortable teaching these topics to children in Middle School. These laws are best in a High School civics course IMHO.

ScienceTeacher671

January 31st, 2011
6:03 am

Someone (DOJ? DOE?) sent our school a video about this several years ago, entitled as best I recall, “Georgia’s Seven Deadly Sins”, but I hadn’t heard much about it in the past few years. I didn’t know it was part of the middle school curriculum.

justin

January 31st, 2011
6:24 am

What is the passing score on the CRCT? 50%? 60%? Suppose it is 60%. You can teach 100% of materials required for the CRCT hoping that your students can answer correctly to 60% of them. Now, you can cover 70% of materials but do it more thoroughly so that students can answer 75% correctly. That’s 52.5%. Now, if children answer the rest (30%) at the chance rate (i.e., just guessing), you get 7.5%, totaling 60%. Hmm…. That’s another way to play the game, isn’t it?

Simba

January 31st, 2011
6:33 am

Seriously, it’s not that big of a deal. My teachers teach it, and move on.

Private School Guy

January 31st, 2011
6:47 am

This is something to wake up to. I haven’t had a chance to look up what exactly are the 7 Delinquent Behaviors according to Georgia standards but I sure smoking is one of them and they may have added driving and texting as the eight. But it would not be terrible if the original seven deadly sins were taught. First of all the sins are more or less a Catholic traditional belief and are NOT mention in the Bible. But they do address the issue of excess in personal life. Sloth, anger and gluttony need to be addressed and I’m sure few educators would argue with that. While greed’ and envy are two attributes that many in todays society might have no problem with. The religious right would emphasis lust. But you would be hard pressed in the current world of education to find anyone (sans myself) who feels that pride is a sin.

Forsyth County mom

January 31st, 2011
7:11 am

Private School Guy:
The Seven Deadly Sins, (they are actually called the Seven Violent Offenses) as listed in SB440 are:
murder,
rape,
armed robbery (with a firearm),
aggravated child molestation,
aggravated sodomy,
aggravated sexual battery
voluntary manslaughter
Sad to think that kids as young as 13 – 17 commit these crimes, but commit them they do. I do agree with you about teaching the original Seven Deadly Sins, although I believe that this would be the responsibility of the parents. Oh, wait a minute. The parents aren’t responsible for teaching their kids anything – that’s the job of the schools, right? (typed with MAJOR SARCASM!)

catlady

January 31st, 2011
7:12 am

I guess I am hopelessly behind, because I don’t think 13 year olds who are properly supervised need to know about this. While I can imagine 13 year olds who would do this, they are those with parents who are too “busy” to bring them up and take proper care of them.

I’ll have to ask my 25 year old if she was taught about this; I know I never signed anything like it.

Dr NO

January 31st, 2011
7:27 am

Perhaps a better idean might be for the parents to be informed of such and they could inturn inform their offspring? Then again to do so it would cost yet another billions upon billions of dollars.

Then again no doubt most responsible parents really have no worrys with such…

Catch 22.

Jennifer

January 31st, 2011
7:36 am

I hope they are also teaching the kids in that class that very often the schools are charging children for juvenile crimes as minor as being disrespectful in school. Maybe they can show the districts data to back this up ? Then hopefully they are teaching the kids that if you violate the school rules, you have little control of defending your position and you will be shipped off to an alternative school (at best) and that placement will set your education back years. I bet none of this shows up on the CRCT test, but frankly these issues will impact several hundred kids in Fayette County this year!

What if

January 31st, 2011
7:42 am

@Justin – Depending on the VERY arbitrarily set difficulty of an given CRCT, about 80-85% of the students in any given grade on any given subject will “pass” one of the tests. What percent of the questions somebody gets right is TOTALLY a function of how hard the questions are. If you ask a 3rd grader how much is 2+2, many hopefully will get it right. If you ask them to find the square root of 7,339,412, fewer may get the answer. Remember that the questions are typically written by contracted part-time otherwise unemployed non-teachers to “specifications,” then put in front of students the year before as “test questions.” If the difficulty is about right, the questions get included for real the next year. The simple question might be “Which of the following is one of Georgia’s 7 deadly sins? a. texting b. skipping class c. sodomy d. refusing to take out the trash for your mother e. all of the above. A harder question might be something related to the psychological damage to the victim that might be the result of each of the seven. Likely the contractor building the test will not be told how hard the deadly sins questions should be (but will be told how many (probably 3) with what “specifications” (general guidelines for the subject matter), so it’s pretty hard to guess what will be “tested” on sins on the CRCT. How about an essay question: “Compare and contrast the relative merits of sloth, greed, anger and gluttony” (none of which I bet are any of the seven).

HS Public Teacher

January 31st, 2011
8:08 am

If the law states this, shouldn’t the “children” be aware of it? It seems that the parents are not…

What's best for kids?

January 31st, 2011
8:16 am

No way that I am going to let my child learn about this at school. It’s my job to teach her.

Inman Park Boy

January 31st, 2011
8:19 am

The city of Atlanta and the DeKalb public schools should be listed as two of the seven deadly sins.

ABC

January 31st, 2011
8:37 am

You know, I am fairly liberal in my thinking, but this kinda crosses the line. Are you telling me that the teacher has to list and teach these? Are you telling me a question in a CRCT would include the word sodomy and child molestation??? I REALLY do not want my kid to know about this in middle school!!!!

OMG, I am truly terrified now!

Call_Me_Crazy_But

January 31st, 2011
8:40 am

J. Tom Morgan has written a very informative book, and he does an excellent job explaining these laws to the students in these assemblies. Depending on who the D.A. is in your county, your child could face adult felony charges for some foolish teen mistake because of the way the laws were written. Read the book and discuss it with your children, and attend his assembly if you can.

Really amazed

January 31st, 2011
8:43 am

If your o.k. with your children attending a gov’t run school and tesching to the crct than this is what you get!!! I also noticed that you were sent home a permission slip??? Guess what, If you don’t want your daughter to see it or be a part of it, don’t sign the permission slip! At least you were given a permission slip. Most other gov’t run public school c— your child will not have a choice. Remember GA is doing such a great job with our children’s education. I do agree with the first comment on this one.

A

January 31st, 2011
8:43 am

This is a joke, right? I’m extremely liberal politically but I sure wouldn’t want an 8th grader hearing this stuff in great detail from someone who is not their parent. I hope this outrage doesn’t cross over into Fulton schools!

Really amazed

January 31st, 2011
8:44 am

teaching not tesching. My bad!

JL

January 31st, 2011
8:50 am

I encourage all of you to read “Ignorance is No Defense” written by J. Tom Morgan (former Dekalb Co. District Attorney). It is written on a level that teenagers will understand and gives examples of how laws can be broken. The seven deadly sins are discussed. Teenagers are unaware that what they think is no big deal is actually against the law. For example – boys (or girls) that think it’s funny to grab someone’s rear or “accidentally” touch a girls breast can be charged with sexual battery under Georgia Laws. Or, say two teenagers get drunk and have sex. They are both willing participants. If one of them does not remember having sex and was too intoxicated to give consent, that is considered rape. (remember Genarlow Wilson?) Sending that nude picture picture of you took of someone (or that was sent to you) on your cell phone as a joke? That is considered distruibuting child pornography. If convicted they must register as a sex offender. Kids do stupid things, and many of them fall under these 7 deadly sins. They need to know what the laws are and what falls under them. If you don’t want your child to hear about any of this at school, at least buy this book (or something similar) and go over it with them.

Dr NO

January 31st, 2011
8:54 am

Genarlow Wilson…and how is GW doin these days?

Maureen Downey

January 31st, 2011
8:55 am

@Dr. No, Last I heard, he is still at Morehouse College.
Maureen

HS Public Teacher

January 31st, 2011
8:57 am

I am confused by parents that do NOT want schools to teach this….

Are you saying that these “children” should not be informed? If one of these “children” commit one of these crimes, are you saying it is okay that they claim ignorance?

Do you feel that a teacher cannot relay this information properly or correctly?

Why do some parents freak out when our current society seems to push children to be more like adults? (not that I agree with our current society)

WAR

January 31st, 2011
9:18 am

i want to send a response letter. how do i do it?

atlmom

January 31st, 2011
9:30 am

HS public teacher: the school has other things to do. They really shouldn’t be teaching this. We are working with my 3rd grader on his cub scout stuff and we’re supposed to speak with him re: child molestation, etc. Seriously – we are not happy about it. He’s supervised 100% of the time. I know, I know…sometimes it’s the ‘people you know.’ But really, can’t these kids be KIDS! It’s the parents job to teach this stuff.

Maureen Downey

January 31st, 2011
9:30 am

@War, To whom do you want to respond? If to the post, send me a note. If to the poster, still send me a note and I will forward to the mom.
Maureen

Really amazed

January 31st, 2011
9:30 am

I personally don’t see anything wrong with advising students about their actions(consequences0. I do think this should come from the parents! I am glad that the school is giving the parents the option of discussion rather than making it mandatory. However, I also believe that the students that will need this the most, won’t be the ones seeing or hearing about it, do to the parents not even seeing or ever knowing about the permission slip in the first place.

EnoughAlready

January 31st, 2011
9:33 am

Our children today need as much information as possible and that includes information regarding the Seven Deadly Sins, drugs and sex education.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

January 31st, 2011
9:52 am

Employing local judicial and law enforcement personnel as adjunct instructors might add some credibility to teachers’ efforts regarding “The Seven Deadly Sins.”

ridiculous

January 31st, 2011
10:19 am

Well then who is going to teach them? Their parents?…especially in Clayton County….well come to think of it CCPS shouldn’t either….they make a habit of screwing people daily if the chance presents itself.

Middle School Rocks

January 31st, 2011
10:53 am

Am I crazy? If this is expressly in the curriculum…which it is…why is there a permission slip necessary to teach it. Also, to all parents who say they do not know about it-there is a list of the AKS sent home at the beginning of the year and available online at all times. Please blame yourselves and not the school or the teachers.

Fred

January 31st, 2011
10:54 am

Sam

January 31st, 2011
10:55 am

I’m laughing at the people who are aghast at the idea the school is teaching their children about these “adult” topics – news flash, your kids already know.

Maureen Downey

January 31st, 2011
11:01 am

@Fred, Having written extensively about the Genarlow Wilson case, viewed the tape, interviewed him in jail and interviewed the prosecutors, let me point out two facts:
A jury watched that video, listened to the testimony of the other 17-year-old girl at the party about her friend and the testimony of other kids at the party and made a decision that Wilson was not guilty of rape. I talked to the forewoman of the jury. This was something they considered for a long time before deciding to not convict.
Instead, it found him guilty of oral sex with the younger girl, who was a year behind him in school. Again, I saw the video. The younger teen was not coerced and testified herself that she was sober and willing, as borne out by the video.
Was Wilson wrong? Sure. Did he deserve to go to jail for 10 years? Two different courts, including the state Supreme Court, said no.
Maureen

PJ

January 31st, 2011
11:13 am

@JL – I agree that kids should be informed about the things you mentioned. There are major efforts to ensure kids of a certain age understand that if they are 18 & their boy/girlfriends are 15, physical contact can be prosecuted as child molestation.

Yet, these “7 deadly sins” are WAY more than that. I understand that our children should not be ignorant of the laws, but this goes so far above and beyond that. The number of kids 13-17 who commit these grotesque crimes is a very small percentage of the student population. The idea that these subjects could come up on a standardized test is ridiculous. We need to focus on academics, not extreme, deviant behavior.

WAR

January 31st, 2011
11:40 am

sorry it took so long… i want to send a response to the it to the post.

WAR

January 31st, 2011
11:44 am

pj
the problem with focusing on academics is this: children are bombarded with images, words, songs, videos, and pictures all day… everyday. many of them send and/or receive these same messages and do not fully understand the consequences. discussing these “7 deadly sins” to some degree is necessary. if you do not think so, talk honestly with your own children or grandchildren and they will tell you the truth.

ABC

January 31st, 2011
11:49 am

Sam: are you saying that 13 year olds know what sodomy is? Really? I have a 10 year old, and he’s fairly well versed on sex (age appropriately), but it did not occur to me to talk to him about sodomy, bestiality, and such. Is it really necessary? I didn’t know stuff like that existed until I took a psych course in college! And I really don’t think I was too naive!

Soccer Mom

January 31st, 2011
11:51 am

I think my son had this training with J. Tom Morgan live and in person. I guess I don’t have a problem with it because the kids know about all these things whether you think they do or not. The kids think there is no way they could ever be convicted of any of these “sins”. We had a long talk about it because kids, boys more likely than girls, are at risk of some consensual sexual act down the line being a chargeable offense. The Genarlow Wilson case is a great example of this. Hopefully, knowledge of these laws will act as a deterrent to the teenagers who want to engage in this behavior. I don’t remember signing a permission slip for it though (although I suppose I could have).

WAR

January 31st, 2011
11:52 am

ABC
children may not use the diction we do… but they sometimes talk about it in various ways. many may know about a few but not all of the seven deadly sins.

WAR

January 31st, 2011
11:57 am

at some places where i worked, the so-called “good kids” usually found themselves in trouble because no one talked to them about dangers because people labeled them as “good kids”. all kids need intervention and talking to.

Just a Thought

January 31st, 2011
12:10 pm

The reason it needs to be discussed is because the kids are doing it. They are engaging in this behavior in middle school or they know someone who is or they have heard about it. Don’t be naive about what your kids are exposed to. If you let your kids watch MTV or most prime time cable TV for that matter, they definitely know. We want to cry foul when the school sees a problem and tries to address it but how many parents let that same middle schooler watch R rated movies and TV or listen to explicit song lyrics at home. Give me a break. We live in a sex crazed society. They know.

Atlanta mom

January 31st, 2011
12:12 pm

I find it unfortunate that this needs to be taught in the middle school. HIgh school seems to be a better age, but ignorance of the law is no excuse (unless of course you’re a politician).
J Tom Morgan came to our high school and spoke to the students during the day and the parents at night. I consider myself an informed parent, but I learned much that evening. It should be REQUIRED ATTENDANCE for parents.
I understand that Sonny was not supportive of J Tom because, horror of horrors, J Tom addresses oral sex in his book. You know, lots of kids don’t consider that to be sex. Better to get the facts in middle or high school, before you find out from the County DA

Soccer Mom

January 31st, 2011
12:24 pm

@Atlanta mom – I agree with you. My son must have been at the middle school version of that meeting. He came home informed and thoughtful so I think it did what it was intended to do.

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Sam

January 31st, 2011
12:37 pm

@ABC The kids might not know the dictionary term for the act, but trust me, they know. My mother says the same thing about “not knowing what a homosexual was until college, and how come everyone knows about it now as little kids?!” Think about it, that was her experience forty years ago. Your kids know, and they are talking about it, even if it’s not in specific terms. Heck, I remember joking with my friends about some of this stuff when I was in middle school in the 90s. The internet is an amazing facilitator of information.

long time educator

January 31st, 2011
1:40 pm

My understanding is that ALL sex ed in Georgia is with the parent’s permission. You can always opt out. We sent a standard letter at the beginning of school offering the option of non-participation. I remember meeting with kindergarten parents who were very concerned until I explained that the kindergarten curriculum was: all people and puppies and kittens,etc,, have a mother and a father, biologically. But they could still opt out.

Batgirl

January 31st, 2011
1:54 pm

I work in middle school and was unaware that this is part of the curriculum. I don’t think it should be necessary to go into too much detail about the illegality of sex acts. Teachers should just be able to say that all sex acts are illegal for people under the age of sixteen (?) and that they could be prosecuted as adults. Then in high school, acts such as child molestation, rape, etc. could be covered.

As others have noted, while our kids may not know the technical terms for sodomy, they know about it and unfortunately may have experienced it. Even our “good kids” are aware.